On July 10, 2014, Consul General John S. Creamer participated in a guided tour of Afro-Brazilian historical and cultural sites located in the Rio de Janeiro Port Region. The tour was developed in support of the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Promote Racial and Ethnic Equality (JAPER). Afro-Brazilian activist Carlos Alberto Medeiros showed the various sites to the Consul General and discussed themes related to race relations in the U.S. and Brazil with him. Medeiros translated the autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. into Portuguese, to be launched by Zahar Editors in September 2014.
The tour started with a stop at the “Cais do Valongo” (Valongo Harbor), one of the main ports of entry in the Americas for slaves arriving from Africa. The Valongo Harbor was rediscovered in 2011, during excavations conducted in connection with the revitalization of the Rio de Janeiro Port Region, and was then transformed into a historical and cultural site by the City Hall. Historians believe that over one million slaves arrived in Brazil through the Valongo Harbor during the 18th and 19th centuries. Consul General Creamer then proceeded to the “Pedra do Sal” (Salt Stone), a historical, religious and cultural site. Located at the center of the area known as “Little Africa”, which was full of collective houses of escaped and freed slaves, the Salt Stone is also famous for having been the birthplace of samba in the early 20th century.
The tour also included a visit to the Research and Heritage Institute of the New Blacks. The Institute is a private cultural center located in a house built over land which had been previously used as a cemetery for African slaves who had recently arrived in Brazil and passed away as a consequence of ill treatment during the trip. Consul General Creamer met with the Institute’s Director Mercedes Guimarães, who briefed him on how the history of the New Blacks has been unveiled in recent decades. The tour concluded with a visit to José Bonifácio Cultural Center, the Rio de Janeiro City Hall documentation and reference center for Afro-Brazilian history and culture.